Chrystine Tauber: A Champion For Show Jumping

Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage - Friday, May 25, 2018

Living in Wellington for many years, Chrystine Tauber serves as one of the international officials at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Tauber champions the mandated position by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) as the president of the Appeal Committee for show jumping CSI 4* and 5* events during the winter season.

As a former international rider herself, she has been a licensed FEI and USEF judge for 40 years and a course designer for 20 years. Trusted by competitors and officials alike, she exemplifies fair play and great sport.

Her efforts take place behind-the-scenes, and she works six of the 12 weeks during the highest-level international show jumping events. “To run these high-level international events is a big undertaking for show management,” she said. “There is a lot of prize money involved, and it’s a big commitment.”

Tauber presides over a three-person committee and watches the competition closely for any unusual situations or problems that might result in a protest. They review the cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of the ground jury of FEI judges.

In cases involving veterinary matters or irregularities with the competition horse’s passport, the international veterinary delegate is invited to join the Appeal Committee for a review.

Each of the horses competing at FEI events has a passport that includes its identification papers and inoculation requirements to compete in international Grand Prix events all over the world. Usually held on the day before the start of the competition, the veterinary delegate and the president of the ground jury examine the paperwork of each horse, and then the horses must jog for soundness.

Tauber is either present or on-call for these horse inspections. “The passports are the official entry document into the secured FEI stabling on the grounds,” she explained. “They must be up to date and the information correctly entered for the horse to compete.”

The ground jury consists of four or five FEI judges. Often, two judges sit in the judges’ tower with the announcer and electronic timing technician, while another serves as a backup timer with a stop-watch in the arena in case of an electronic failure. If there is a water jump as part of the course, one judge will be assigned to observe the horses clearing the full width of the water. “The ground jury does have the final decision on the results for the class,” Tauber said. “However, if there is a major rule infraction that warrants a significant fine, then it will be referred to the Appeal Committee.”

Tauber is a longtime champion for the Wellington winter series and all its riders.

“The 12-week series is unique,” she explained. “It allows the riders to develop their horses over a lengthy period of time that builds confidence and trust in their training. I love the CSI 5*/2* format. That is relatively new. It allows the riders to decide each week what level they want to jump each of their horses. This is a great way to develop top-level horses.”

The evolution of international show jumping in the United States has been remarkable, and it continues to this day, Tauber said.

“There are all sorts of changes going on that are very progressive, including the International Olympic Committee’s 2020 mandate to require all sports to provide more exciting formats that appeal to youth and include medal podium awards following the event,” she said. “That is a good thing. Whenever we are challenged to improve our sport, whether it be for television coverage or to provide spectator appeal, we have to ensure that we provide good sport and fair competition. All those components have to be part of what we develop for the equestrian sports.”

Tauber is the past president of the U.S. Equestrian Federation and served as manager for all show jumping, dressage and eventing for U.S. equestrian teams in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, the 1983 and 1987 Pan Am Games, and for the show jumping teams for the 1982 and 1986 World Championships. She also had a hand in creating and instituting the USET Medal Finals as a National Championship.

One of Tauber’s top goals is that the United States stays competitive at all levels.

“I am currently chairman of the Jumping Sports Committee for U.S. Equestrian. Developing the pathways for our riders has been a topic of discussion over this last year,” she said. “We are currently looking at pathways to develop our youth, through young rider divisions and into the Under 25 Grand Prix division, and then onto the international senior U.S. team. The U25 show jumping division began at the Winter Equestrian Festival and has become an important part of our pathway.”

To stay competitive, U.S. riders need to compete head-to-head with riders from around the world.

“It has become so global now,” Tauber said. “For many years, our riders were coming up through the equitation division to develop good, solid, basic riding skills. But today, we see that that is not the only avenue. Many come up through the jumper division. In the youth events, the South Americans are used to riding a very fast time. Our youth need to learn how to ride within a tight time allowed to avoid time faults and still leave the jumps up.”

Additional programs and events will focus on this issue.

“We are working on offering more types of events to attract our youth and broaden their experience,” Tauber said. “It’s part of our overall strategic plan that we are working on within the Jumping Sports Committee.”

The Europeans have several advantages, she noted.

“They get more international experience at all levels, including children’s divisions, in Europe because of the close proximity of the different countries,” Tauber said. “Here, we would like to create more opportunities for the up-and-coming riders to compete in team events.”

Recently, Americans have new opportunities to compete in Europe.

“U.S. Equestrian now provides developing rider tours to Europe to compete in competitions that have invited U.S. riders,” she said. “When I was growing up, that wasn’t even possible.”

Tauber qualified and rode for the U.S. team in Gladstone, N.J., at the age of 18. She competed in Europe for several years representing the U.S. in CSIO Nations Cup international team competitions.

“When I was younger, I trained with Gabor Foltenyi, and then I went on to ride for the U.S. team and coach Bertalan de Némethy,” she recalled.

Capping an illustrious junior career, she won both the Medal and the Maclay Finals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Tauber has long been a champion for the equestrian sports. Her significant career accomplishments include the U.S. Equestrian Federation Sallie B. Wheeler Award for Distinguished Service in 2017 and the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. She was a member of the United States Equestrian Team for show jumping from 1965 to 1968 and was winner of the Grand Prix of Cologne and the President’s Cup in Washington, D.C.

She is also the current owner and operator of Distinctive Gardens, providing personalized garden design and care within Wellington. She lives with her husband George Tauber, who is a board member of the Palm Beach Polo Property Owners Association.

To learn more about Chrystine Tauber, view her Lifetime Achievement Award video at www.vimeopro.com/eqsports/2016-ushja-lifetime-achievement-tauber.

Reprinted with permission from the Town Crier Newspaper.